Well 2014 has been a great year for new music. Of course I say that every year but it’s true every year too.
First I’ll start off my list with my honorable mentions. I’ve listened to a lot of albums this year and liked quite a few. It would be an injustice to NOT give these bands a mention. After all, it’s only fair. They did write, record, and publish these fine works of art. As I was going through this list, I realized that I listened to a lot more than I thought I did. I’m probably going to (unintentionally) leave out some really good ones. I also haven’t heard all there is that was released this year. Albums by both Monster Magnet and John Garcia went unheard by these ears as well as the new Alunah album (which will be getting my full attention soon). If you’re curious as to each band, click on the album name to go to either the album on Bandcamp or a video from a song on the album. I hope there’s a few hidden gems on here you discover. Leave a comment below if there is and let me know what you think.
Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell – Check Em Before You Wreck Em
BandMaster Ruckus – BandMaster Ruckus
BlackWater – BlackWater
Blackwater Prophet – Blackwater Prophet
Blackwülf – Mind Traveler LP
Black Lung – Black Lung
Blue Dream – Blue Dream
Blue Falcon – Up In The Clouds
Brain Pyramid – Chasma Hideout
Brownout – Brown Sabbath
Brunt – Brunt
Bungalow Bums – Lawless Days in Reservation
Clan – Witchcraft
Coyote Kolb – Let It Show
Crazy Chief – Chrome Werewolf
Crypt Trip – Crypt Trip
Dead City Ruins – Dead City Ruins
The Dead-End Alley Band – Odd Stories
Doctor Smoke – The Witching Hour
Dr. Crazy – Demon Lady
Dwellers – Pagan Fruit
Edelhout – 2.0
Face On Mars – Face on Mars
Fever Dog – Second Wind
Frozen Planet….1969 – Lost Traveller Chronicles, Volume One
Fu Manchu – Gigantoid
Funeral Horse – Sinister Rites of the Master
Gorilla Riot – Gorilla Riot
Grifter – Return Of The Bearded Brethren
The Groke – Monstrorum Historia
Gypsy Comet – Burn It Down EP
Half Gramme Of Soma – Marche au Noir
The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – A Real Fine Mess
Headquake – Into The Spiral
Heat – Labyrinth
Heavy Necker – Reptile Kings
Hot Lunch – House Of Whispers
Horizon – The Last Man In Terminus
Jeremy Irons & the Ratgang Malibus – Spirit Knife
Lafayette – Tn Motor
Limestone Whale – Limestone Whale EP
Lonely Kamel – Shit City
Lords Of Beacon House – Lords Of Beacon House
Low Down Way – EP1
Lucette – Black Is The Color
Mos Generator – Electric Mountain Majesty
The Mojo Makers – Devils Hands
Monobrow – Big Sky, Black Horse
Mother Mars – Claimed By The Cloner
Necro – Necro
Planet Of Zeus – Vigilante
Riot Horse – This Is Who We Are
Rival Sons – Great Western Valkyrie
RUKH – Blue Surface of the True Love
SautruS – Reed: Chapter One
Sigiriya – Darkness Died Today
Slow Motion Rider – Slow Motion Rider
Stubb – Cry Of The Ocean
Super Witch – The Sun EP
Throne – Where Tharsis Sleeps
ThunderHawk – Do Or Die
Tilts – Cuatro Hombres
Tobacco Juice – Tobacco Juice
The Socks – The Socks
The Tower – Hic Abundant Leones
Wasted Theory – Death and Taxes
Whalerider – Thanatos
Whiskey Myers – Early Morning Shakes
Wiser Fool – All That Is Left Behind
Witchrider – Unmountable Stairs
Woodhawk – Woodhawk
Wucan – Vikarma
Venomin James – Wake the Dead EP
Yama – Ananta
Zodiac – Sonic Child
1000mods – Vultures
Now my top 25 albums. These are albums that I listened to over and over. They’re also the ones that have stuck with me the most throughout the year. The first 24 are in no certain order as their all equally great.
Mothership – Mothership II
I am so proud of these guys. To watch them (figuratively speaking of course) go from no recorded material to where they’re at now has been a lot of fun. They represent everything that is great with rock and roll from everything in the past, to everything in the future and everything in between. My original review of the album wasn’t going to be anything more than a few sentences. As I started writing about it everything just came out. The album is that good. It’s heavy, it rocks and most importantly, it rolls. Mothership is the future of rock and roll, I don’t care what anyone says. These guys are just going to keep getting bigger and bigger. You watch. If after listening to Mothership II doesn’t convince you, then you need help.
Handsome Jack – Do What Comes Naturally
Heavy blues based rock is some of the best kind around. There have been many pioneers in the field including The Black Keys. Handsome Jack forge their own way on their own terms. Not trying to to sound like a copycat in a crowded filed can be a tough thing for a band. Handsome Jack do so just “Handsomely.” Do What Comes Naturally is their 2nd release (I don’t yet own their first and haven’t heard it) and it’s a gem. It is the needle in the haystack. When Classic Rock Magazine featured the album I was taken back by it’s sound, it’s feel and the way that the album flowed. There isn’t a klinker on here, all killer with no filler. I knew I had to review this one. It’s gotten a fair amount of play from me and is still in the active rotation today. I don’t see it leaving anytime soon either.
Powered Wig Machine – Supa-Collider
This was one of the first albums that I reviewed when I started the site. I had been waiting for it for some time now especially after listening to the band’s release. It took awhile to come out but it was well worth the wait.
Double Planet – Double Planet Volume 1
Another one that took me by surprise. I remember buying this album on artwork alone. I tend to do that sometimes and most of the time I’m disappointed. Not this time. When I reviewed it I said:
“It’s a hard rock album at heart but it borrows from so many other bands and sounds that it’s really hard to pinpoint where they were trying to go with it. It all works out because it is an album that defines stoner rock.”
Yep. Still true. I really hope there’s more in store for these guys.
EDIT: After writing this, the band released a 2 song EP which is just as good)
Captain Ivory – Captain Ivory
Captain Ivory relocated from Michigan to Nashville earlier in the year. Not before they released their debut self titled album. When I reviewed it I said:
“I was totally blown away. The album is blues rock from front to back but digs into some 70’s era classic rock from some influence. Early Aerosmith comes to mind especially when the song “False Remedy” really kicks in. This album sent chills down my spine. Only really good albums do that for me.”
Now if they can hook up with a good producer (Dave Cobb maybe?) they can really knock the followup out of the park and make a huge name for themselves.
Grail – EP One
For the 25 minutes that this EP plays, it grabs you by the collar and says “Listen here, crank this shit up to 11, no, fuck that. Crank this to 12 and thrash about until you pass out from exhaustion.” Really, that’s the only way to listen to this EP. As short as it is, it packs a shit load of punch. (Review)
Greenleaf – Trails & Passes
The band’s last album was good but it didn’t really capture me enough to say it was one of my favorites. Sometime later it was reported that the band had a new vocalist. I was a little hesitant because Arvid Jonsson was unknown in the stoner rock world. No worries needed once the first few seconds of the album came on. Mr. Jonsson’s vocals are fine. The rest of the band is on too. In fact, the band is on fire! Trails & Passes has become my favorite Greenleaf album.
Calliope – ORBIS
This album caught me by surprise. I had discovered the band just about a week before this album release. I wrote about their prior album. Calliope are from Milwaukee. They have the Midwestern flare mixed with a nasty hankering for 60’s psych and a bit of The Doors. I’d say it’s comparable to The Flying Eyes first album. This is certain to be a hidden gem. If you haven’t listened, do yourself a favor, click the player below and listen while you finish this article.
Crobot – Something Supernatural
If someone told the guys on Crobot that they weren’t supposed to sound the way they do, do you think they would listen? I would hope not. They have an underground yet mainstream sound all at the same time. Seriously, they’re sound is huge. Their previous release was excellent but Something Supernatural just blows that out of the water. It’s huge, fast paced and a balls to the wall rocking album.
Blue Snaggletooth – Beyond Thule
One of the best albums I’ve been waiting for is finally here. The band’s debut was a masterpiece and I honestly thought it would be hard to top. Blue Snaggletooth came through and didn’t disappoint. It’s a hard and heavy masterpiece and a perfect followup album. The guys don’t believe in sophomore slumps. Beyond Thule is no straggler. It’s the perfect get your ass kicked with steel toed boots type album.
Black Moth – Condemned To Hope
Black Moth’s Killing Jar was my favorite album the year it came out. I listened to the album countless times. Condemned To Hope had received the same treatment. Harriet Bevan’s vocals howl like wolf in the moonlight demanding you pay attention. She’s got a voice that is mesmerizing, rough, sassy but yet sweet al at the same time. Kickass to sum it up. The full album is just that as well, kick ass.
Desert Suns – Desert Suns
When Desert Suns released “Burning Temples” early in the year I predicted big things for them. The band finished up their EP and decided to give it away. Their desert rock and classic rock mixed sound is an excellent blend. Their sound is pretty unique too, they’re not trying to sound like The album kicks ass and slays.
Lo-Pan – Colossus
The final Small Stone Records release of 2014 happens to be Lo-Pan’s Colossus. A masterpiece within itself. The thing about Lo-Pan, they never disappoint. This is their 3rd album with Jeff Martin on vocals and it’s nothing short of a stoner rock masterpiece. This is one of those albums that flows nicely throughout, there isn’t a shitty song on the album. Not that there’s such thing as a shitty Lo-Pan song, there isn’t. You know what I mean. Colossus takes a few leaps and bounds ahead of prior material. This album isn’t a perfect 10, it’s a perfect 20.
Mount Carmel – Get Pure
I remember when I reviewed this album, I made a huge mistake. While thinking that this album is “Pure Gold,” I got that stuck in my head and had accidentally put that down as the album title. I was a little embarrassed when the PR company emailed me to notify me of my mistake. It was all good as Get Pure is pure gold! I liked Real Women a lot but it gets blown away by Get Pure. The song writing takes center stage on this one and that’s what made it really stick out for me. Their signature sound help a little bit in the matter as well.
Slow Season – Mountains
This band was so over looked with their 2012 self titled release. I missed them until sometime in 2013 when my good friend Bucky pointed them out to me. He said that they were the best band Led Zeppelin never was (or something to that effect). From there they were put on my radar. Good timing too because not to long after the band said they were working on new material. That of course led to months of waiting for word on when we’ll hear something. Of course the band has been in good hand with Ridingeasy Records. When I finally got the chance to listen to Mountains I was like a giddy child. It was the same satisfaction that a child has when they’ve been asking for their most wanted toy and receiving it after what seems like an eternity of waiting. This album is a complete Led Zeppelin worship just like a lot of doom bands do with Black Sabbath. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, honestly I don’t really care. What I care about is if this album is good. Does it speak to me, does it move me, does it make me want to shake along and play air guitar and drums? The answer is quite simply yes. All the above. If you’ve missed out on this album thus far, you really need to listen to it now. Do some good in this world and hit play.
Orange Goblin – Back From The Abyss
Quite simply Orange Goblin’s best album to date. What isn’t there to like about Orange Goblin? Back From The Abyss has raised the bar once again. The best heavy metal band from the UK releases one of their heaviest and grooviest to date. The Black Sabbath and Motorhead influences stick out but that’s a good thing. This album is a rock out with your cock out.
Sons of Morpheus – Sons of Morpheus
This was an album that I picked at random to listen to. Right away I was blown away. The album didn’t pussyfoot around, it got right to the point. The album is a versatile mix of garage, blues and stoner rock borrowing sounds from bands such as Radio Moscow, Alice in Chains and The Truckfighters.
Wo Fat – The Conjuring
Two words, WO FAT. Is there really anything more I need to say? Anytime this band releases a new album, it’s constantly on my best of lists. Is it really any surprise? Wo Fat’s heavy Texan groove, heavy psychedelic doom blues riffs tear up any speakers bold enough to crank the music. The Conjuring is the latest of their album. It builds up from 2012’s The Black Code and takes things a whole new level. It’s a lot more jam based but that’s a good thing.
The Well – Samsara
Samsara is actually The Well’s previous EPs release as one full album. New enough to warrant being on this list. I was psyched when I first found out that The Well signed with Ridingeasy Records. I knew the band was going to be well taken care of. Fans of female fronted, 70’s based doom/retro/heavy psych or any of those combos are going to love this. It’s one of those albums that you can have on repeat all day and never tire of.
The Golden Grass – The Golden Grass
If there’s one band that is capable of awakening the funk and groove of the 70’s from bands like The Who, Cream and Blind Faith, The Golden Grass is the one. After a fantastic 7″ release last year, the band released their self titled release earlier in 2014. It was everything I imagined it would be, a fucking good album. It’s short at only 5 songs but each song makes a statement. Good news, there will most likely be more music in the not so distant future.
Heavy Glow – Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine
Midnight Moan, the band’s first full length was a hit or miss depending on who youask. Me? I liked it but it lacked something. I really couldn’t get into the album much. Pearls & Swine and Everything Fine however, that really hit the spot. Instead of going backwards in time and staying “retro,” Heavy Glow has progressed blending a little retro and more modern hard rock. The end results are a highly energetic and diverse rock and roll album. Did I mention it’s catchy as hell? My first impression was “damn, this is really really good.”
Lé Betre – Melas
At the recommendations of both my good friend Bucky and STB Records head honcho Steve, I gave these guys a listen. I was impressed but I wasn’t sold. After a second listen, not only was I impressed, I was also hooked. I had to have the vinyl. Due to financial limitations and high international shipping, I don’t spring for vinyl often. I made an exception and it was well worth it. Their hard rocking tunes and unique vocals help make this album stand out from a pretty crowded field. Look for more from these guys in 2015 as they’re going to be part of a split with another band on STB Records.
Child – Child
This was released earlier in the year and was the first album that I played to death. If I remember correctly, the album was on repeat for about 3 weeks straight while I worked on the house and drove to and from work. This Melbourne Australian band’s bluesy rock debut is nothing shy of a masterpiece within itself. It’s jams, it’s bluesy, it’s got heart and it’s full of soul. Those hungry for a vinyl release will get their wish shortly into 2015 when it’s released through Bilocation Records.
John Wilkes Booth – Useless Lucy
Another one of the many albums I’ve anticipated for a long time is John Wilkes Booth’s Useless Lucy. It didn’t disappoint. hard rock, stoner rock,classic rock, a little blues and all kick ass. I know this album caught a few other reviewers by surprise. I wasn’t surprised by it, I was surprised by how much it blew away my expectations.
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music
If you had asked me to listen to this album 2-3 years ago, I would have laughed at you. 5 years ago I would have told you to get bent. Longer than that, well lets just say that I think I need to censor myself. So what is it that makes a country album the number 1 album on a rock website? The answer is quite simple, Simplicity. I spent the better half of 2014 listening to this album as well as both Sturgill’s 2013 release, High Top Mountain and his previous band’s self titled release, Sunday Valley. Sturgill’s music is simple, well thought out, well written and well recorded. It was produced by the legendary Dave Cobb who has produced albums for Shooter Jennings, Lindi Ortega and Rival Sons among many others. Unlike the country music on the radio, Metamodern harkens back to a simpler time in country music. He’s been compared to some of the greats such as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. He’s been called the savior of country music, a notion that he has shot down in interviews in the past. He writes and plays music the way he wants to. If he brings a few thousand fans along the journey, so be it.
I wrote about this album briefly in the past and I said that it really resonates with me. It still does to this day. I scrobble my music through Last.fm. As of this writing, Sturgill’s music has been played nearly 4,800 times. I discovered the man in May just before Metamodern was released. He is currently sitting 2nd all time just below Clutch (which is sitting at just over 10,000 plays). That’s a lot of listens in a short amount of time. That also explains a lack of reviews. The album churns up a lot of good memories that I have, mostly with my grandfather. Some of the words and phrases he uses in some of his songs are slang that is used in the railroad industry. Sturgill himself is a former railroader so really it’s no surprise. Hell, I wouldn’t mind sitting down with him over a coffee or a beer and just swap railroad stories. That’s how humble and down to earth he comes across in both his music and interviews. He doesn’t have an ego, if he does, he hides it really well. Really though, I can’t praise this album enough. I’ve since sought out music similar to Sturgill’s. I’ve found a few gems, but Metamodern really is a diamond on the rough. It’s not really comparable to much else. This is probably the most heartfelt and true album I’ve heard in a long long time. While nothing is set in stone, yet, there have been some rumblings about another album. Will 2015 see Sturgill Simpson with a followup album? One can hope so.
2015 looks to be yet another great year for new releases. New releases by Zed, Clutch, the Goya/Wounded Kings split, Lindi Ortega, a live Wo Fat album, Cherry Choke, Kadavar, Mos Generator, Stone Axe, The Midnight Ghost Train, Small Stone Records bands such as Neon Warship, It’s not Night It’s Space and La Chinga. Ripple-Music has a few things up their sleeves that I’m not allowed to talk about yet. It’s rumored Sturgill Simpson will have a new one as well. Of course there will be many surprises in store. I’m sure there will be a few debuts by bands we don’t know about yet that will blow our socks off.